New Dundee striker Danny Mullen says the pressure is all on Hearts in the Championship this season as the two clubs prepare to go head to head.
The Jambos have been installed as early favourites to win the title and gain promotion back to the top flight after their demotion last term.
Former Livingston and St Mirren man Mullen, though, is taking that with a pinch of salt as the Dark Blues prepare a promotion bid of their own.
He said: “They obviously have a bigger wage budget but that doesn’t mean they are going to run away with the league or anything like that.
“This is a really competitive division and people can take points off each other week in, week out.
“It is all about gathering momentum. It is a 27-game season so, hopefully, we can start well.
“We have a good squad here and we will be pushing Hearts all the way.
“I think considering what happened with them last season, they will struggle to turn it around and have a good start so the pressure is all on them.
“We have our own ambitions to win promotion this season and we are more than capable of doing it.”
After struggling for game time at the Buddies, Mullen is keen to “kickstart” his career at Dens Park.
The former Livingston man was snapped up this summer after leaving St Mirren by Dens boss James McPake after narrowly missing out on his signature in January.
In fact, Mullen was already in his car on his way to Dundee only for the deal to collapse as the winter transfer window slammed shut.
Mullen, who won the Championship with the Buddies, said: “Hopefully coming to Dundee can kick-start my career again and I can show people what I can do.
“Coming to a club like this is a no-brainer for me.
“When I heard the gaffer was interested in me again, I couldn’t wait to get signed up.
“Back in January, it had come to the last day and was really close but it ended up falling through.
“I had just left in the car but the deal ended up breaking down.
“These things happen in football but the important thing is I am here now and hopefully we will have a good season.
“I have won promotion and scored a few goals in this division as well.
“Hopefully, I can do the same again with Dundee.
“That’s obviously the aim.”
Mullen turned up for pre-season training with his new team-mates this week after a long hiatus thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s been delighted to get back out on the grass with a ball at his feet and get used to his new surroundings.
One face he knows, however, is fellow new signing Alex Jakubiak. The former Watford kid spent part of last season at St Mirren on loan from Vicarage Road.
The two might not have spent any time together on the pitch with Mullen out of the picture in Paisley but he’s hoping they can build a good partnership at Dens Park.
He added: “It has been good to get started and to meet all the boys, see the facilities and stuff. It has been brilliant.
“I just can’t wait for the season to start.”
On Jakubiak, he said: “Alex came into St Mirren last January so it is good to see a familiar face.
“It helps you settle in a wee bit better.
“We didn’t really have a chance to play together. I haven’t played too much the last two years, being in and out of the team.
“So it will be kind of a new partnership for us but I was training with him every day so I know the way he plays.
“Let’s hope it turns out to be a good partnership.
“When you know someone and the way they play it can help your game as well, you can read off of each other’s movements so it will help.”
Mullen may have had to wait eight months to arrive at Dens Park in Dundee colours but he’s eager to get going and to repay the faith shown in him by a manager who wasn’t put off by the collapse of a deal in January.
Knowing new gaffer McPake rates him highly enough to come back again six months later gives the striker confidence he can shine at Dens Park.
He said: “That’s half the battle I suppose, feeling comfortable about the place. It makes you want to do well for him and the team.
“So it is great to have someone that backs you and I can show what I know I can do.
“I want to prove myself and give a bit back to the manager as well.”